Aaron Sorkin's Stroke Left Him With These Symptoms—Including One He Still Has
The famed screenwriter had a stroke late last year and is still recovering.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is famed for his work in TV and film, creating the hit show The West Wing and taking home an Oscar for writing the Facebook origin story The Social Network. But Sorkin got his start as a playwright, writing A Few Good Men and later adapting Harper Lee's classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, among other hit projects. His latest endeavor is reworking the script to the Golden Age musical Camelot, giving the somewhat confusing book a fresh look. But while working on the project, Sorkin experienced a stroke, leaving him with a whole host of lingering symptoms—and one that he still struggles with. Read on to find out more about the acclaimed writer's condition.
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At first, Sorkin didn't think anything serious had happened.
In Nov. 2022, Sorkin was working on Camelot's book before rehearsals began in January. One night, he woke up disoriented, the 61-year-old screenwriter told The New York Times in a new interview. He was "crashing into walls and corners," but wasn't initially concerned. Sorkin said that the biggest red flag came when he kept spilling his orange juice the following morning.
Sorkin's doctor urged him to come in right away. After taking his blood pressure, the screenwriter was told it was so high he was "supposed to be dead." He was then informed that he'd had a stroke.
He's getting better, but his taste is still off.
Sorkin told the NYT that he experienced a range of symptoms in the aftermath: slurred speech, difficulty typing, and an inability to sign his name. He added that his signature skills are getting better, attributing it to "autograph seekers" attending Camelot.
The screenwriter was also advised to avoid flying for a few weeks, but he's now permitted to do so, and his other symptoms cleared up about a month after the stroke. However, Sorkin told the NYT that his sense of taste is still off, and he struggles to "really taste food."
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He was forced to make lifestyle changes.
Sorkin believed he was somewhat invincible before his stroke, but then faced a harsh reality.
"I thought I was one of those people who could eat whatever he wanted, smoke as much as he wanted, and it's not going to affect me," he told the NYT. "Boy, was I wrong."
In addition to working out twice a day, eating better, and taking medication, Sorkin has since quit smoking. As he told the NYT, before his stroke, he would go through two packs of cigarettes a day. He noted that the habit—which he picked up in high school—was also an integral part of his writing process.
"It was just part of it, the way a pen was a part of it," he said. "I don't want to talk about it too much, because I'll start to salivate."
Still, Sorkin wanted to warn other smokers by sharing his story, even though discussions about his stroke were initially off the record.
"If it'll get one person to stop smoking, then it'll be helpful," he said.
Sorkin was concerned about his writing career.
Writing is Sorkin's career, but his stroke posed a threat to that, he said.
"There was a minute when I was concerned that I was never going to be able to write again," he told the NYT. "I was concerned in the short-term that I wasn't going to be able to continue writing 'Camelot.'"
However, Sorkin did recover. He's still making edits to the musical's book while the show is in previews—and he made it known that he's definitely up for the job.
"Let me make this very, very clear," he said. "I'm fine. I wouldn't want anyone to think I can't work. I'm fine."
Camelot opens on Broadway on April 13, starring Phillipa Soo as Guenevere, Jordan Donica as Lancelot, and Andrew Burnap as Arthur.